Formula 1

Manor Marussia must offer more to keep F1 place

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It was a good feeling to have somewhat of a normal F1 Grand Prix weekend in Malaysia.

After just 15 drivers took to the grid in Australia and Manor Marussia failing to even make it out of the garage during the whole weekend, it was refreshing to have 10 teams with working cars in Sepang even if Manor were one short after a fuel system problem on Will Stevens' car was unable to be fixed.

But the return of John Booth and Graeme Lowdon's team back onto the racetrack after new investment by Ovo energy boss Stephen Fitzpatrick has been one of the few feel good stories in the opening weeks of the season.

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Manor return a feel good story

Manor Marussia has always been the team fans like because when they joined the grid in 2010 under the Virgin name, their ambition was simply to go racing, Manor have a pedigree in junior formulas and to have them achieve success in F1, thanks to Jules Bianchi in Monaco last year was one of the best underdog stories in recent history.

There is one man, however, who isn't so pleased about their return and that is F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

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F1 boss begs to differ

He fined the team $2 million for their no-show in Australia and after being nothing more than making up the numbers at Sepang told the Independent newspaper.

“We should have chopped them off when we found out that they were insolvent.

“The trouble is that they went into administration, and when they get themselves out of administration, they are back as if nothing has ever happened. I have never heard anything so mad but that is how it is.”

Unsurprisingly reaction among fans has been largely negative about Ecclestone's opinion and given the stance that the 84-year-old has had on the fate of smaller teams in recent months, his position is not much of a surprise, but on this occasion he may have a solid reason to back up his view.

Manor must offer opportunity

When you are a team that is not in a position to fight for points or wins or championships then you can still offer something to F1 by giving a potential future star a place to start his career or a veteran driver a place to end it.

This was one of the points about Minardi, everyone loved their pluckiness and through the team past Grand Prix winners in Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber began as did two-time champion Fernando Alonso.

Minardi since became Toro Rosso and they have produced the four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and have two very promising youngsters in Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen.

Fellow 2010 start-up Caterham offered Kamui Kobayashi and Heikki Kovalainen a place to continue their F1 career after being dropped by higher ranking teams as did Marussia.

To begin with it was Timo Glock offering his experience after Toyota pulled out of the sport and a good young driver alongside him.

Jerome D'Ambrosio had a seat before the financial situation hit and the money of Max Chilton became imperative, but the aforementioned Bianchi got his start with Marussia and, before his crash at Suzuka last year, it was clear that the Frenchman was being prepped to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari when the Finn finally hangs up his helmet.

A mobile chicane

Currently, in the early weeks of their new incarnation, Marussia are having to use two pay drivers to simply survive in Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi and neither have really got the resume of potential future stars.

As a result then there is two so-so drivers in very slow cars, simply offering a mobile chicane for the lead drivers to overtake three times in a race.

A reward needed for the effort

As much as it is good to have them back that is not really boosting the show in any way at all. When they had the battle with Caterham and previously HRT then yes they offered a purpose and something for fans to watch but now it is just them they look like little fish in the big ocean of F1.

Therefore it is crucial that Manor Marussia improve and join the midfield or offer something more to the sport than just finishing 19th and 20th in qualifying otherwise the effort that has been put in the reviving the near-defunct outfit will be a waste of money and time for all.

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Topics:
Will Stevens
Manor Marussia
Formula 1

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